Bizzy Chicks- Creating an Impact YOUR Way
How exciting it is to decide to start your own 501(c)(3)! Making that commitment and acknowledging that your soul is calling you to serve is an awakening and a milestone. Congratulations!
And now the work begins! The next phase of your journey involves three critical components. There is no time limit or speed at which each component must be addressed. The important thing is tackle each with intention, bravery and patience.
1. Speak Your Truth Out LOUD!
While I am thrilled you have made the commitment to embark on this life-changing journey, it's imperative you turn thoughts into action by stating your intentions — to yourself, to the universe, to everyone. Dreams are ethereal, and if we don't speak them into being, they have a habit of staying hidden and unrealized.
I recommend starting a dialogue with anyone who will listen. Walk them through your vision, and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Trust me when I tell you that, at this point, you will not have the answers to all of the questions that will get thrown your way. This step will help you to refine your vision, to evaluate your scope and to think through any obstacles, ultimately giving you the confidence to move forward with your mission.
For me, this was a really challenging step. My vision constantly conflicted with my corporate world realities, and I was often made to feel that if I launched my own nonprofit, I would be allowing my corporate career to suffer. People will put all sorts of doubts and limitations in your mind, not because they want to hurt you, but because they want to protect you.
The truth is, most of us don't live up to our fullest potential, and frankly, even the idea of it can be unnerving to some people. Believe me when I tell you: Keep going! Every challenge or doubt that someone brings to your attention is a gift — it provides you outside perspective and an opportunity to solve problems before they arise. Ultimately, you will find YOUR truth, and there is nothing more validating and empowering than that moment.
2. Build your TRIBE!
Creating a nonprofit is daunting work, and you will need a tribe to help you on your crusade. It is critical to go through both your PERSONAL and PROFESSIONAL network to form that tribe. The idea of engaging with your professional network on something you are privately so passionate about may seem off-base; however, the reality is that your 501(c)(3) vision will not come to fruition with the help of your BFFs alone. You need your tribe to include creative peeps, lawyer peeps, finance peeps, business peeps, and even the outlandish peeps!
This step will help you as you determine whether you can pitch your vision and gain critical pro bono services, for example the legal resources necessary to complete filings, incorporations and board requirements. There are so many moving parts involved in starting your nonprofit, and you will need the resources of a diverse and smart tribe.
This is the one tip I wished someone had told me from the beginning, because the impact of finally establishing my tribe has been profound. Once I expanded my network, City Chik on a Mission was picked up by a major law firm as one of their pro bono cases for the year! The services they provided were invaluable, and they continue to be an important resource today. Also, by expanding my network, I made more and more connections, exponentially, that have guided me throughout this journey, whether I realized it at the moment or not.
3. Be prepared for the BUMMERS.
People will have the best of intentions. They'll want to help you. They'll want to support you, both emotionally and financially. They'll even want to serve with you. But, no matter those good intentions, there will be countless times when things fall apart. There will be financial commitments that don't come through, people who disappear once they realize the amount of time and effort required, and there will be promises made that aren't delivered. The bitter reality is that you have to be confident enough and tenacious enough to weather those storms and still pull through.
My advice is to take notes. Mark down who commits and what they are passionate about. Keep a running list of your ideas and the things that need to get done. Compare the volunteers with the needs, and see if you can't make a connection between the two, driven by passion. If there is one thing I know, it's that when we lead with love and have grace through the curveballs, everything works out in the end.
In our next series, we will dive deeper into the nitty gritty, including campaign setting, fundraising, launch plans and showcasing your impact — written by a gal who found her own place in the world, between her love of Corporate America and her global humanitarian Mission & Movement.